The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Constant Gardener

A phenomenal, how-did-they-get-that-made type film starring Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz as a British diplomat and his activist wife thrown into the economic/political maelstrom of contemporary Africa.  My wife's first reaction was that she didn't want to see it, that it, like "The Interpreter," would end up being another film about Africa with no Africans in it, something we both find rather offensive.  But that isn't true.  Africa herself is an important character, and her people, in all their various nobility, brilliance, ignorance, and poverty, are central. Based on a novel by John Le Carre, "Gardener" seems to be almost a documentary, dealing with pharmaceutical companies making vast profits off shoddy drugs in Africa, and willing to kill to protect secrets.  And those  And the director, damned near one-upping his fabulous work on "City of God," stole scenes in one of the poorest and most intimidating ghettos I've ever seen, creating a sense of reality that takes hold and won't let go.  This is an important film, part of a collage of early 21st-century wealth and power as the 3rd World scrambles for its share of the pie, and Industrialized nations strive to develop a conscience.  Heartbreaking and ultimately deeply troubling, offering no easy answers and a slightly pat ending, Constant Gardener is ultimately a love story...between a man and a woman, a woman and a continent, and  an audience and a bleak vision of post-Colonialism.  Wow.  Give it an "A"

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